MIDDLEBURY, VT—Williams women's swimming and diving kicked off championship season this weekend at the Middlebury Invitational, hosted at the Middlebury College Natatorium. The weekend was full of notable dives and races, setting an impressive tone for those that are carrying on to the NESCAC and NCAA Championships in the coming weeks. Despite having three sessions within twenty-four hours, the Ephs held strong to the finish with enthusiasm and ready to show what it means to race the "Ephpride" way.
The first session began on Friday evening with the 200-yd freestyle relay. Despite falling short to the Middlebury Panthers A-team, the Williams A-relay was able to touch second with an impressive time of 1:40.52. Following the relay was the first individual event of the evening, the 200-yd individual medley. The Ephs dominated the event, grabbing first through seventh. The charge was led by Megan Pierce '17 at 2:06.67, followed by Emma Waddell '18 at 2:07.66 and Olivia Jackson '17 at 2:08.66. The Williams women also proved capable in the distance races to conclude the evening, with Victoria Chentsova '19 winning the 1000-yd freestyle with a lifetime best of 10:48.23. She was followed by Emma Sawkins '18 in second with a season best of 10:49.22. Even after an impressive first session, the Ephs knew they would have to bring everything the following day to finish the job.
Saturday morning the Williams women arrived well rested and determined to keep the momentum going from Friday evening. The Ephs were led off with a win by Ellie Sherman '20 in the 400-yd individual medley with a time of 4:33.72, followed by Caroline Conforti '20 (4:45.59) in second, and Franny Dean '19 (4:47.03) in fourth. Just after, the Ephwomen took first through fifth in the 100-yd butterfly, with Maia Hare '19 touching first at 58.02. Also notable from the morning session was the first-place finish in the 200-yd freestyle by more than two seconds for Madeline Wessell '20 with a time of 1:54.36.
The Ephs were tasked with a quick turn around for the evening session on Saturday, but as always proved more than able to live up to the challenge. The first event of the evening was the 500-yd freestyle, in which Williams took 1-3-5-6 by Megan Pierce '17 (5:03.56), Veronica Wolff '20 (5:11.94), Madeleine Deardorff '20 (5:18.19), and Emma Sawkins '18 (5:18.37) respectively. Just following was the 200-yd backstroke, led by Katherine Priest '18 at 2:07.69; Emma Waddell '18 (2:07.76) and Lauren Jones '17 (2:08.60) touched second and third respectively. In the last individual event of the evening, and likely the most notable performance, Ellie Sherman '20 won the 200-yd butterfly by almost 8 seconds with an NCAA B-cut time of 2:05.45. To cap off the swimming portion of the weekend, the Ephwomen took first and second in the 400-yd freestyle relay with a winning time of 3:33.98.
In the diving well, Ariana Ross '17 delivered a standout performance, breaking the NESCAC and pool records on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. While she broke her own record on the 1-meter, the 3-meter had been in place since 2008. Molly Harrington '18 and Joyce Tseng '20 also finished with lifetime bests on both boards. Diving coach Kit Koch was more than happy with the women's performances, saying "the girls all dove very well, and it was a fun weekend to compete as a team and see all their hard work pay off."
While the times and scores speak for themselves, the Williams women also proved that they are strongest together this weekend. The energy behind lanes and for the divers was at a season-peak, giving just a preview of the success that is to come. The Ephs will have a weekend off of competition as they prepare for the NESCAC Championships, which will be held at Bowdoin College's Leroy Greason Pool the weekend of February 10th-12th. The first session will begin Friday, February 10th at 10 AM-EST.